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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business [Hardcover]

Charles Duhigg
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 28 2012 Editors' Pick: Best Books of 2012

Groundbreaking new research shows that by grabbing hold of the three-step "loop" all habits form in our brains--cue, routine, reward--we can change them, giving us the power to take control over our lives.
"We are what we repeatedly do," said Aristotle. "Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." On the most basic level, a habit is a simple neurological loop: there is a cue (my mouth feels gross), a routine (hello, Crest), and a reward (ahhh, minty fresh). Understanding this loop is the key to exercising regularly or becoming more productive at work or tapping into reserves of creativity. Marketers, too, are learning how to exploit these loops to boost sales; CEOs and coaches are using them to change how employees work and athletes compete. As this book shows, tweaking even one habit, as long as it's the right one, can have staggering effects.
In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes readers inside labs where brain scans record habits as they flourish and die; classrooms in which students learn to boost their willpower; and boardrooms where executives dream up products that tug on our deepest habitual urges. Full of compelling narratives that will appeal to fans of Michael Lewis, Jonah Lehrer, and Chip and Dan Heath, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: our most basic actions are not the product of well-considered decision making, but of habits we often do not realize exist. By harnessing this new science, we can transform our lives.

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Review - Best 100 Books of 2012 - Best 100 Books of 2012

The Power of Habit is an enjoyable book, and readers will find useful advice about how to change at least some of their bad habits — even if they want to keep their salt.”
The New York Times (editor’s choice)
“Reading the quirky anecdotes and the whizbang science of it all becomes habit-forming in itself. Cue: see cover. Routine: read book. Reward: Fully comprehend the art of manipulation.”
Bloomberg Businessweek

“[A]bsolutely fascinating . . . Really juicy, fascinating, sometimes confounding stuff here.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Duhigg has a knack for distilling laboratory findings into accessible language. . . . The Power of Habit is a fascinating read.”
The Daily Beast

“Duhigg makes everything accessible and useable for habit-makers and habit-breakers alike. Much like a handful of potato chips, in fact, this book is hard to resist.”
—The Nashville Ledger

The Power of Habit is a good and educational read. . . . Duhigg doesn't preach, rather he invites you to learn—a much better approach.”
“Duhigg's writing is easy to consume and is sure to make you laugh. You'll forget that this non-fiction book has as many stats as your college psych textbook.”
—Huffington Post

“With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Charles brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.”

About the Author

CHARLES DUHIGG is an investigative reporter for The New York Times. He is a winner of the George Polk and National Academies of Science awards, and was part of a team of finalists for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. He is a frequent contributor to NPR, This American Life, and Frontline. A gradaute of Harvard Business School and Yale College, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their two children.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By fastreader TOP 500 REVIEWER
One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So if you are wanting a different result you have to change what you are doing. Or else there is that whole insanity thing staring you in the face.

In the Power of Habit the author Charles Duhigg links to the insanity (se above) of people expecting to change an outcome without changing the input or process. In the book these three points in the process are called Cue - Routine - Reward.

Simple, yet complex. As in any endeavour to deconstruct or reverse engineer anything to do with humans, the devil is in the details. What looks like something simple upon first observation, becomes increasingly complex as you peel away the layers. Humans are emotional and non linear. Plus just to make life interesting, and it does, we all sing along to a different playbook. One that is created by who you are, who your relatives are, who you run into in life, karma (had to throw that one in), your education and how you use all this to problem solve.

The Cue, Routine, Reward trilogy is an attempt to simplify the process and it works. The author gives us examples where changes to the routine can have sometimes dramatic changes. Sometimes the changes to the routine are small and sometimes they are large.

The author goes further in that he starts with humans and then moves onto organizations and societies using the same trilogy of cue, routine, and reward.

For anyone who wants at least a small chance of understanding why we do what we do, why organizations and society acts as it does this book will be insightful and instructive.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (Hardcover)
This is not an easy book to describe because Charles Duhigg offers such a wealth of information in so many different areas. For example:

o What a habit is...and isn't
o What the habit loop is and does
o How and why we form good and bad habits
o Why it is so difficult to sustain good habits and so easy to sustain bad ones
o Which external influences most effectively manipulate both good and bad habits
o How to defend good habits
o How to break bad habits
o How and why our habits reveal our values

In Part One, Duhigg focuses on how habits emerge within individual lives (e.g. ; in the next, he examines the habits of successful companies and organizations; and then in Part Three, he looks at the habits of societies. "We now know why habits emerge, how they change, and the science behind their mechanics. We know how to break them into parts and rebuild them to our specifications. We know how to make people eat less, exercise more, work more efficiently, and live healthier lives. Transforming a habit isn't necessarily easy or quick. It isn't always simple. But it is possible. And now we know why."

There in a brief passage is the essence of what motivated Duhigg to write this book and also perhaps, just perhaps, a sufficient reason for people who read it to then rebuild their habits to their expectations, based on what they have learned from the book.

One of Duhigg's most valuable insights (among the several dozen he shares) is that organizations as well as individuals can develop bad habits or allow them to develop.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars High stories to substance ratio March 18 2012
I had high expectations for this book. I did get some insights but my interest stopped midway. A main problem with this 'popular science' genre can be captured by the ratio of stories to substance. The author, no doubt an accomplished writer, is at his best when telling stories. He is a good writer and is able to make abstract ideas accessible. However, when it comes to substance, there is little new in this book. Notions such as reinforcement, conditioning and routines have been around since the 1940s. Also, the author ignores or simplifies many things about habits such as their creative role, the way they relate to beliefs, surprises and social interaction and on. We also know that habits are not completely mindless and do not require repetition to exist. I do not admire this genre although I can see how it may address some readers' needs. I wish we get rid of this habit and have instead books with a more balance between wisdom and folklore.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Causal effects are not like billiard balls May 14 2012
I often buy my books based on reviews from and as it is a fairly good reflection of the quality of the book, but this one is not the case. The beginning chapters held my interest, but it started to wane in the 2nd half when they started talking about corporations. This is because I think too much of the performance of the corporations is tied to habits as if the causal effects were like billiard balls. There are simply way too many factors why companies succeed and/or fail and trying to pinpoint it to a particular habit seems too sensational and convenient.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak Oct. 31 2012
Looking to create/adjust/alter/eliminate some habits? Don't bother then with this book. It has some nice stories, the first half of the book is relatively informative on a more generalized scale, but the second half of the book falls off badly, and it never dips into more nuanced discussion from a self-improvement or corporate improvement perspective. OK read, but not nearly as informative or helpful as I might have hoped.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book - Opens Up Your Mind to How Habits are Formed
This book opened my mind to how habits are formed and changed. I can now use the knowledge to improve my understanding about people around me, my own behaviors and responses to... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Ashish Kothari
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book !
I literally loved this book. Very instructive. Lots of examples can be used to change some of our habits. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone.
Published 1 month ago by Jean-Sebastien Villa
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Actionable.
Really opened my eyes up to the actual power that a habit can have on you and why they are so hard to change. Or why some things seem impossible. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Alex Drysdale
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
A very interesting read, ending up in my top favourites easily. Very cool studies are included to back up the information. I will read it again.
Published 10 months ago by MR DARIN GERMYN
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful.
What's been my problem has been dealt with in this book. After you read this book, you feel you have more control over your life.
Published 11 months ago by Kamal Maissami Fard
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
I would recommend this book to anyone trying to make some changes in their lives...This book will give you another view on your habits and you can tweak them... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Harry Beckett
5.0 out of 5 stars Change
I think that if you can internalize this information and work on new can dramatically change your life. I'm starting slow, but I am beginning to crave... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Laurie Saukko
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating
Well researched and insightful. It actually changed my life and the way I look at news events and the behaviour of friends and acquaintances. Read more
Published 15 months ago by zanderary
4.0 out of 5 stars helpful advice
Some very interesting research going on about our habits - mostly by advertising companies it seems! Read more
Published 16 months ago by Phantom Heart
4.0 out of 5 stars A good kickstart and reminder about the power of habit
The core of this book is the concept of habit loops. A cue triggers a behavior at the end of which is some kind of reward. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Rodge
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